There's a squirrel in our kitchen
'Why are there 37 tins of sardines in the cupboard, darling?' No one is more affectionate in speaking to her spouse than sweet Hermione, no one freer with her marital endearments. Nevertheless, the 'darling' can only be interpreted as flashing amber, if not a red. The pained tone in which the word is uttered comes across as less 'darling' and more 'dingbat'.
'They are Portuguese sardines, sugar plum.' My adored spouse is a big Portugal fan, ever since a happy holiday spent in Faro, but she is not in the mood to be diverted by thoughts of The Algarve, not this time.
'I'm not much bothered if they are Portuguese sardines or Polynesian sardines or Puerto Rican sardines, tiddleums, just curious as to why there are 37 tins.'
'Look carefully, cherrikins, and you will notice that some of them are paprika flavoured sardines. It's a new recipe. You like paprika.'
I resume the crossword - 12 across: Her road leads to stockpiler (7). Must be an anagram. Her road. Hoarder. Got it! Hoarder. As I fill in the answer and maintain cover behind the newspaper, the still of the evening is disturbed by a series of thumps.
'And there's a stack of cans of tuna here at the back too. So where's the bread?' No darling. No tiddleums. No honey-hunk or lover-lips either. This is getting serious.
'Yes, bread. You have the fishes. Now all you require is the loaves and you can do a full re-enactment of Christ's feeding of the five thousand.' Feeding of the five thousand. Very good, very funny. 14 down: pub profits at the right price (8). Pub could be bar, yes. Got it, bar-gains. Bargains!
Further thumping. I put down the paper and rise to investigate. My adored wife is on her knees, presenting her shapely backside to the world, with her head stuck in a kitchen cupboard. The ground shakes as a series of items is tossed out from the cupboard - miscellaneous tins and packets and bottles. A large jar of prunes in evilly dark brown syrup rolls unsteadily across the floor and comes to rest at my slippered feet. Hermione's head emerges and she sits up, surrounded by a jumbled litter of the goods she has excavated like a terrier scrabbling at a rabbit hole.
'Ha! There you are.' Still no cuddletips or snuggleups. 'What is the best-before on those prunes?' I pick up the jar and scour at the lid to find the date in blurred type, still just about legible.
'It looks like June of 2009. But that's only a recommendation, prettikins. Prunes are made to keep. I'll have them for breakfast tomorrow.'
'Hmm. So that jar of sickly sweet fruit has been taking up valuable storage space in our cupboard for the past eight years, maybe more. It's a wonder they have not exploded.'
She sighs a dramatic sigh and tosses me what was once a brightly coloured can, though the lurid reds and yellows have been muted somewhat by the passing of the years. I squint at the label and discern the words 'Patel's Spicy Lentils'. Sounds lovely.
'If I am not mistaken,' and Hermione is very seldom mistaken, let's face it, 'the last time I saw that fine example of Oriental cuisine was when we moved into this house. It came from your bachelor pad.' She pauses to make a show of reckoning the time that must have elapsed between the purchase of the lentils long ago and their exhumation today .
'When we moved into this house, our Eldrick was only just walking. He will be 18 in a few weeks' time. Patel and his lentils should be in a museum, not a kitchen.'
I have always been drawn to the special offer corners of the supermarkets. And the election of Donald Trump has strengthened my conviction that it is a good idea to lay down a store of food against the day when the world's economic system breaks down.
Now I find that my bluff has been called. I shall indeed be having prunes for breakfast tomorrow morning and every morning until the big jar is empty. I am also looking forward to savouring 2007 vintage Spam in my packed lunches, while the lentils will be opened for a dinner time treat.
The rest of the family will be eating normally.